Like NFL player Asante Samuel, Rush Limbaugh is a bit flummoxed about why everyone is celebrating the coming out of NBA player Jason Collins. On his show earlier this week, Limbaugh complained that there is excitement for a person’s sexuality being “rammed down everybody’s throat all the time,” but no “tolerance” for people who oppose homosexuality:
LIMBAUGH: Folks, I grew up in a family where people’s sexual orientation, preferences, whatever, weren’t even discussed. Why can’t everybody just put your sexual preferences on Facebook and call it a day? What do we need to stop everything and have a national day of celebration, or mourning (depending on your point of view), or recognition or whatever about this? This tolerance, it only goes one way. So Person X of some national stature announces his sexual orientation as gay, and applause!
It’s a great day for America. We’re really taking giant leaps ahead. If anybody says, “You know, I’m not big on that,” it’s, “You bigot! You racist! You extremist. You homophobe.” There is no tolerance at all here. Not only do these people have to publicly announce it, but everybody else has to applaud and accept it.
Limbaugh went on to juxtapose Collins’s coming out with President Bill Clinton’s scandal with Monica Lewinsky, bizarrely suggesting they were comparable stories about a person’s private sex life — in other words, if Clinton’s sex life was supposed to be private, so too should Collins’s. Listen to it:
What seems lost on Limbaugh is the role of stigma. An issue like acceptance of homosexuality doesn’t have equal and opposite points of view, as if everyone were asked what their favorite color is. The gay community has faced real persecution in the century since people first started coming out, and bullying, family rejection, and legal inequality continue to be significant obstacles for them. Just because opposition to LGBT equality has become the minority opinion in this country does not mean that people who hold such positions are now oppressed.
Limbaugh’s comments reflect the expectation put forth by many conservative groups that religion should justify discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In reality, “tolerance” for intolerance is really just code for enabing more intolerance.